Album Review: Stone River Boys – Love On The Dial
Californian Dave Gonzalez is best known as the guitarist for the roots-rocking Paladins and, with Chris Gaffney, as one half of the Hacienda Brothers–an act that combined country and soul into something sublime.
When cancer took Gaffney’s life in 2008, Gonzalez hooked up with Austinite Mike Barfield, the self titled “Tyrant of Texas Funk,” who is remembered among country fans for his days with the Hollisters. Together as the Stone River Boys, Gonzalez and Barfield have conjured what they call “country funk.”
A step beyond what the Haciendas accomplished, it’s a little more upbeat, and, with the help of primo steel guitarist Dave Biller and bassist Scott Esbeck (ex-Los Straitjackets) performed with a deft touch. Problems arise with the songwriting, handled primarily by Barfield, however. Some of the funk feels forced and the country weepers like “Forty Acres” don’t connect, primarily because Barfield usually over emotes.
Covers of Stephen Bruton’s “Bluebonnet Blue” and the 1968 Tyrone Davis hit “Can I Change My Mind” are better examples of what the Stone River Boys are about, though a atmospheric rendition of Gerry Goffin/Carole King tune “Take A Giant Step” (previously recorded by the Monkees and Taj Mahal), is rearranged beyond comprehension. As a whole, Love On The Dial is an interesting, yet flawed debut.
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